Schapelle Corby: A lavish return for Australia's most famous drug smuggler

  • 29/05/2017

Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has returned to Australia, but her seemingly lavish lifestyle following years in a Bali prison and on parole, has some eyebrows raised.

Her return to Australia, 13 years after being convicted of smuggling 4.3kg of marijuana in a bodyboard bag, created as much of a media storm as when she was first caught by officials on the strict Indonesian island.

Ms Corby is believed to be lying low in a posh five-star inner Brisbane hotel having successfully pulled off a switcheroo on the waiting media.    

More than 40 journalists and photographers has booked flights on a Virgin Airlines plane after being led to believe that would be Ms Corby's ride home.

It was much to their dismay she'd pulled a bait-and-switch, having actually got a front row business class seat on Malinda Air with her sister Mercedes.

Business class flights on Malinda Air from Denpasar to Brisbane cost around NZ$691, while flights on Virgin can set you back up to NZ$1580.

In the hours before her departure from Bali, Ms Corby set up an Instagram account and was pictured with her sister in the back of a police van heading to the airport.

It is unclear who paid for those flights.

Ms Corby's arrival in Brisbane wasn't typical either; she was kept from the pack of waiting media and whisked away in a convoy of black vans, which could also have been a decoy.

At one point the vans split directions, one going to the plush hotel and the other to her mother's house.

All the media got for their troubles was a statement read by a member of Ms Corby's security team: "To all those in Australia and to all of those in Bali, who were there throughout the difficult journey, your support has not gone unnoticed.

"To each and every one of you, you are appreciated."

Channel 7 reporter Bianca Stone told The AM Show no one knows where Ms Corby currently is.

"It seems Schapelle is far better at hiding herself than she was at hiding 4.2kg of cannabis in her boogie board bag."

Her sister later posted a photo of three full flute glasses of Veuve Clicquot champagne, with the caption: "After resting up its time to finally cheers [sic]."

As for who's paying for her hotel stays and flights, it will unlikely be Ms Corby who, under the Proceeds of Crime Act, can't make any money from her crimes - but her family can.

"[The family] have made a living off this for years, let's be real about it. Since Schapelle was arrested, they implored the media to look at her case and sympathise with her and the Australian public and they were paid handsomely by the Australian media and the international media to publicise this story, so they know this game well," Ms Stone says.

And if Ms Corby was hoping for a quiet life back in her home country she'll be disappointed, with attention not likely to abate.

She's even caught the attention of Eric Thomas, formerly known as Gable Tostee, who asked on Facebook whether she'd be on Tinder.